Dogwood Daily: Democratic Priorities in the General Assembly
By Sean Galvin
January 8, 2020

Welcome to today’s edition of the Dogwood Daily. We’ve got a round-up of all of today’s Virginia news coming right up.

But first…

Today marks the start of the 2020 General Assembly Session. So far, 900 House Bills and over 400 Senate bills have been posted to the General Assembly’s Legislative Information System. That number is up markedly from the 430 House bills and 330 Senate bills that had been introduced at this point last year.

Five things you need to know today …

  1. Democratic Priorities in the General Assembly– The 2020 General Assembly session begins today. With Democrats set to control both the House and the Senate for the first time since 1995, analysts and voters alike are expecting big policy changes for the state. The Dogwood has highlighted the issues to keep an eye on, from gun safety to health care to the Equal Rights Amendment. In each section, you’ll find details on what Democrats have already proposed, and where Republicans traditionally have fallen on those issues. -The Dogwood 
  2. Federal court throws out pipeline station permit– The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a permit necessary for a natural gas compressor station for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on Tuesday. The three-judge panel unanimously ruled that the state hadn’t considered the station’s potential health effects on Union Hill, a historically African American community located nearby. Greg Buppert, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, said the ruling granted validity to the community’s concerns that “the company was trying to erase them out of existence.” -The Roanoke Times 
  3. Bipartisan electric utility bill introduced– Del. Mark Keam (D) and Del Lee Ware (R) have introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at fundamentally changing how the state regulates electric utilities. The Virginia Energy Reform Act would limit companies to overseeing one aspect of the Commonwealth’s infrastructure, opening the rest of the market up to other companies. The lawmakers say breaking up the stranglehold companies like Dominion Energy have over the energy market would both encourage innovation and increase progress on renewable energy projects. -VPM 
  4. Poll finds majority supports new gun safety measures– A new poll conducted by the VCU Center for Public Policy found that a narrow majority of Virginians support gun safety measures. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed say gun laws should be stricter, thirty percent say they are fine as is, and seventeen percent think the laws should be less strict. The poll also found that the vast majority support background checks and limits on ownership for people with mental illness. -VPM 
  5. Second casino proposal in Bristol– The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and developer Steve Johnson announced an agreement on Tuesday for a proposed casino in Washington County. Through the agreement, the tribe would develop and operate a casino on a tract of land owned by Johnson. The proposed casino isn’t the only proposed casino project in the area; local businessmen have already proposed another casino within Bristol. The General Assembly is expected to make a decision on legalizing casino gaming in the state during the 2020 session. -Bristol Herald Courier

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